U.S. News and World Report magazine has released its annual ranking of the nation’s colleges and universities, with Piedmont College ranked in Tier 1 among regional universities in the 12 Southeastern states.
The magazine each year ranks colleges based on some 16 criteria related to academic excellence, including class size, retention rates, graduation rates, faculty qualifications, financial aid, and other factors. Colleges are also grouped in four categories based on their size and mission. These include national universities, such as the University of Georgia; national liberal arts colleges; regional universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees, including Piedmont; and regional colleges that offer mostly undergraduate degrees.
In this year’s ranking, Piedmont tied with Kennesaw State University and Valdosta State University in Tier 1. Only three Georgia colleges were ranked higher among the regional universities in the Southeast.
“This year’s ranking provides us with a great deal of satisfaction, because a lot of hard work by all of our faculty and staff is reflected in this report,” said Piedmont Provost Dr. James Mellichamp. “It is easy to see the improvements on campus in the new buildings and facilities, but it is harder to see the work that goes into improving the curriculum and making sure that students are getting the education that they come here for. Even in tough economic times, we have maintained our small class sizes and done the myriad other things to ensure that our students succeed.”
Piedmont President Ray Cleere said he was also pleased with the college’s placement in Tier 1. “These ranking don’t tell the whole story, but when students and parents are looking for a college, they often start with this report,” Cleere said. “We are glad to be recognized and hope students will look at everything Piedmont has to offer, both here in Demorest and in Athens.”
Mellichamp said that in years past, Piedmont had been listed with the smaller regional colleges, but since it now offers a variety of graduate degrees, including a doctoral program in education, it competes in the ranking with many much larger institutions. “Our enrollment is now about 2,700 students, and they compare us to universities with 10 times that number,” Mellichamp said. “That makes it all the more satisfying to be in good company with the likes of Kennesaw and Valdosta.”